Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Ode to the Seasonal Halloween Stores of 2014!

A fond farewell to the fly-by-night shops that warmed the cockles of our hearts this Halloween...

The seasonal Halloween supply shop, as we've already discussed in 2011 and 2012, is the ultimate harbinger of All Hallows Eve. Although we all use different gauges for when the Halloween season actually begins (for some, it's when college football starts and for others, it's when you can buy Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks), my personal measuring stick has always been the local Halloween novelty store's opening. When it pops up in the abandoned strip mall parking lot, that's when Halloween starts, and as for as I'm concerned, the season ain't really over until all of its signage has been removed. 

With Halloween 2014 soon to become just another thing that once was that is no more, I reckoned it was worth our mutual times to reflect on the kooky, creepy charm the various, seasonal supply stores across America have provided for us this fall.

So, what things will I miss most about shops of the like? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here are seven good reasons why I'm going to desperately long for the seasonal Halloween store over the next 11 months.You might need some Kleenex for this one -- I've never been good at saying goodbye.

The Party Supplies and Festive Sundries!

The in-laws are coming over this weekend, honey. Be sure to break out the bloody hand print table cover!

Any day of the week, you can just waltz into a Wal-Mart or Target and pick up Tupperware, plastic cups and napkins. But only at the seasonal Halloween supply shop can you pick up terrifying Tupperware, phantasmagorical plastic cups and, uh ... spooky napkins, I guess.

Perfect for when you want to make Ray Lewis cookies!

That's the beauty of Halloween as as a holiday. Everything is familiar, but at the same time, oh so different. Yeah, you can tell all of this stuff has a practical, and even mundane use, but at the same time? It's normal, household stuff shaped like a goddamn Frankenstein head.

What discount stores on Predator's home world must surely resemble. 

And let's not forget about the other dressings, either. Halloween is the only time of year where kitsch is practically a cultural edict, and we as consumers can feel nary a shred of remorse when we go out and spend $30 on inflatable pumpkins, bloody decals and various doodads that serve no real utility other than to look scary or weird. Halloween is so wonderfully asinine ... and cheap, practically disposable goods like this are certainly one of the things that make it such a delightfully absurd time of the year.

The Thematically Inappropriate Children's Costumes!

...actually, as anyone who's seen the first ten minutes of the original "Halloween" can attest, this actually makes some degree of sense, if you think about it. 

A few years ago, I recalled encountering kid-sized Michael Jackson costumes, featuring a child with a ten mile wide grin clad in the Gloved One's trademark, garish regalia. Believe it or not, that's probably one of the more tasteful kids costumes you'll encounter at the local fly-by-night Halloween shop.

Do you think that in 80 years, the children of 2094 will be dressing up as cartoonish facsimiles of today's drug runners?

Amid a million trillion Elsa and Monster High costumes, the year's offerings for girls were rather expected -- basically, just a bunch of variations on the princess / popular girl motif, with fluctuating degrees of unsettling sexualization. Whereas the girl costumes celebrated beauty and sensuality, the boy costumes seemed to cater almost exclusively to the gruesome and the violent -- a subconscious, sociological reinforcement of males' nearly-codified inferiority to the fairer sex, perhaps?

Bet the manufacturers of these suckers had no idea their offerings would be so topical this autumn, no?

While one can argue that the general society is moving towards a pan-gender-preferred state, the children's costume aisle at the seasonal Halloween shop is still showing a pretty vast divide between the fantastical idealization of boys and girls -- and much to the chagrin of parents nationwide, those idealized visions seem to lean towards belly dancers and mass murderers. 

The Horror Hokum!'s just like waltzing down the VHS horror section at Blockbuster, circa 1997!

In years past, the local seasonal Halloween stores have been utterly glutted with licensed horror movie goods. Hell, I even saw a Rob Zombie latex mask pop up once. While there's still a healthy amount of Freddy K, Chucky and Jason Voorhees merchandise on store shelves, I've noticed an intriguing shift away from popular monsters of the day and towards proprietary horror offerings -- especially in 2014. 

These decorations can't wait to find themselves situated on a suburban lawn!

That's right, who needs Linda Blair and Boris Karloff animatronics when you can go all out with blood-spattered corpses and your own, store-branded psycho hillbilly killer wearing a burlap sack? The degree of creativity here is pretty impressive, and sans all of that licensing poppycock, stores are pretty much free to make their products as gory and ghoulish as they want. I'd say it's only a matter of time until these stores start marketing make-believe vivisection dioramas, but the blunt reality? They pretty much already are.

Uh...just to be on the safe side, try not to sit too close to the TV while wearing these things, kids.

Even the take on traditional Halloween iconography has gotten a major boost in the (severed) arm as of late. Just take a gander at the Halloween masks above, featuring some gnarly Jack O'Lantern skull hybridizations and what can only be described as the Incredible Hulk and Frankenstein's retarded lovechild. And goddamn, why a movie studio has't made a cheapie about a half panda/half Juggalo serial killer is simply beyond me. 

The Really Weird Impulse Purchase Offerings!

Crap nobody needs ... that, conversely, nobody has the wherewithal to turn down, either. 

In a lot of ways, the absolute best Halloween props aren't the really grandiose ones -- like, say, your giant inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow men, which will certainly lead to my divorce proceedings some day -- but the really small, almost inconspicuous ones, like the funky plastic rings and bag of squishy rat toys they hawk right next to the check out table. 

Kids: always make sure your aerosol hair coloring isn't Floam before you buy it. 

When I think "seasonal Halloween store," the first thing I think about aren't animtronic demons or super skanky costumes, but stuff like the insta-dye hair color kits. They're so ubiquitous as to barely register as Halloween-branded items, but then, you start thinking about how dadgum hard it is to find spinach green blacklights and fog machine juice the other 11 months out of the year.

When you need fake Dracula blood by the half gallon, you KNOW you take the holiday season seriously!

Shit, where else are you going to see wind-up eyeball toys, holographic cat pencils, glow in the dark faux spider webbing and plastic gladiator helmets under one roof? Unless it's at the local, fly-by-night Halloween shop, I doubt it'll be anywhere else on the planet

The Ghoulish Gruesomeness!

Honestly, I preferred the version of "Frozen" with the singing snowman instead of the one where Elsa got decapitated.
Halloween is a visceral holiday. More so than any other holiday, it's all about the aesthetics, and the name of the game here is brutality. Whereas most holidays basically just cull imagery from naturalistic motifs, Halloween takes a totally different approach and focuses on humanity ... in particular, the part of humanity that involves severed limbs, innards and gore galore.

Who doesn't enjoy a nice, pastoral recreation of the contents of Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator? 
Back in the day, our traditional holidays were basically fertility festivals -- Easter being the most prominent, obviously. With Americans shying away from human sexuality like dirty dogs avoiding bathwater, I've always kind of viewed the insane facsimile of bodily carnage associated with our Halloween rites as sort of an offshoot of our collective sexual frustrations. Our admiration of the human form is frowned upon all year round, so what do we do each October? Why, we decorate our homes and lawns with as much synthetic mayhem as humanly possible!

Two girls kissing? Wildly inappropriate. Household goods made out of bloody tissue and enamel? Fun for the whole family!
It's hard to not get into the ghastly joys each year, though. With so many saccharine celebrations during Christmas -- this, after being pounded over the head with semi-jingoistic, pseudo-ethnocentric and blatantly religious iconography during spring and summer -- it actually is a bit of fun to instead reflect upon severed limbs, bloody stumps and various plastic representations of disemboweled abdomens. Karen Horney, no doubt, would give us an earful on the undertones of sexual representation on display on each and every aisle at Halloween City.

The Unadulterated Skankiness!

The best part about contemporary women's costumes, obviously,  is all of that subtlety. 
Of course, that's not to say there isn't some blatant, blindingly apparent oversexualizing going on every All Hallow's Eve, either. There's just something about the Halloween season that changes women -- I have known girls who are just about the meekest human beings on the planet, but around Samhain time, they seem to transform themselves into super aggressive seductresses, shameless vixens and unabashed man eaters. They may dress like Ugly Betty eleven months out of the year, but as Oct. 31 approaches, all of a sudden, every female in America seems to temporarily turn into Bettie Page and Dita von Teese. 

$50 clams to dress up like something out of a bad Roger Corman movie? Money WELL SPENT, obviously.
I guess it's hard to not lose one's self in the deindividuating bliss of the season, but some of these costumes are just too ridiculous for me to believe. From a functional standpoint, I just can't grasp the mindset behind some of the skimpier offerings. I mean, this is late October we're talking about here: when the wind chill is nearly sub-freezing, is it really that good of an idea to be waltzing around in a two-piece bikini and the obligatory animal ears?

...when we've sexualized Marge Simpson, you know the rape culture has won. 

The properties and thematics sexualized have also confounded and flabbergasted me. Ok, so maybe a female Joker ensemble kind of makes sense, but female Freddy Kruegers and Chuckies? That's just too woolly for me, and I'm probably a sexual degenerate or something. And don't even get me started on all of the sexy nun outfits. Well, maybe a little, if you're hot. 

The Unmistakable Ethereal-ness! 

I always stockpile; you ever try finding latex rubber neck wounds around Easter?

The magic of Halloween, and seasonal Halloween stores as a concept, is the fact that you only really feel it once per year. No, not see or hear, but sense in your bones. It arrives on a wisp of  lukewarm September air and slightly browned leaves and exits on chilled November gusts and a fleeting farewell from leaf-less trees. It's here, and then, it's gone.

The candy is clearly designed to allude to a highly noxious, deadly chemicals but in a way, aren't the actual ingredients of the candy highly noxious, deadly chemicals when considering lifetime health impacts? Yeah ... that's fucking meta

You never see latex scars or giant plastic rats or neon blue hair spray on store shelves in February, and you don't see combination fogger/strobe light machines, orange blacklights and glow in the dark lip gloss available at Target in June. For a month -- maybe two, if you're lucky -- you have so much delightful weirdness in your life, and in the blink of an eye? The home decor section at Garden Ridge is nothing but farting Santa animatronics and inflatable snowmen.

I knew the culture war was over, as soon as I could buy more than one zombie teddy bear eating its own intestines.

And so, our local shoppes and outlets are beginning to close their doors, box up their surplus inventories and mark down prices like crazy. The store managers probably e-mailed their resumes to the nearest Michaels around mid-September, and the property owners are desperately wondering what the hell could possibly fill their floor space for the next 320-some-odd days. 

Halloween, regrettably, is soon to become but just another memory, and the seasonal stores associated with it will likewise fade away into obscure recollections of jumbled images, odd smells and depending on whether or not you picked up the gummie bats at the cash register, peculiar tastes as well. 

The witch's season is over, my friends, but it's impact on our lives lingers onward. Farewell, noble Halloween stores of America ... we're already counting down the days 'til your beautifully absurd products once again fill our lives with that seasonal splendor we wait for all year 'round. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Boo at the Zoo!

Zoo Atlanta celebrates Halloween by combining two of the world's greatest things: exotic wildlife and kitschy decorations!

I don't know if you guys knew this, but I really, really like going to the local zoo. In fact, it's pretty much my default weekend activity: if I having absolutely nothing going on Saturday or Sunday, me and my girl will just head up to Grant Park and stare at otters until it's nighttime.

Also, I am a fairly big fan of Halloween -- a shocker, I know. So, when I heard Zoo Atlanta was celebrating Halloween with a special, multi-weekend event -- titled, aptly enough, "Boo at the Zoo" -- you pretty much knew my ass was going to make an appearance.

Rather than give you a half-hearted photographic essay (although we here at IIIA most certainly aren't above such shameless click-bait schemes), I decided to make my own unofficial online brochure, listing seven reasons why all metro Atlantans worth a damn ought to trek to "Boo at the Zoo," pending the opportunity arises...


For those unfamiliar with the outlay of Atlanta, it's a really weird mixture of rural and urban trappings. Zoo Atlanta isn't actually in the city's more metropolitan area -- instead, it's smackdab in the middle of Grant Park, which is one of the oldest residential districts in the city. 

Even weirder, Grant Park is pretty much encircled by the 'hood, including the environs around Grady Hospital, which probably treats more per capita gunshot wounds than any other medical center in the nation.As such, the drive to Zoo Atlanta is certainly an intriguing sociological tour, where suburban transplant hipster aesthetics merge with authentic downtrodden African-American street culture. 

The end result? Primarily, you wind up with a lot of liquor stores with astonishingly detailed Super Mario Bros. graffiti murals on them. 


In "Halloween-izing" their grounds, I think Zoo Atlanta couldn't have spent more than $1,000 on their decorations. I know that sounds like a hyperbolic underestimate, but trust me ... they seemed to spare every expense making their park "Boo" worthy in 2014. 

There were a lot of really random inflatable displays around the grounds, but hardly any of them had any real "animal" themes to them. In fact, I think they simply accepted surplus donations from nearby seasonal Halloween shops as tax write-offs or something. Of course, there were trick or treat booths for the wee ones (I counted, at bare minimum, 1,400 Elsas on the premises), but beyond a couple of Frankenstein and ghost dollies strung up between trees and bales of hay shucked upon the walkways, the All Hallows Eve vibe was really, really minimal. That's not to say the Zoo didn't put some props to good use for the event, however...


Oh, my goodness, you don't know what fucking adorable is until you've seen meerkats playing with Jack O' Lanterns. This ALONE was worth buying a membership card, if you ask me. 

And for bonus points? The pumpkins were cut out to resemble twin meerkats!Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty, Zoo Atlanta pumpkin carver person!


Of course, it's pretty hard to find a way to say "we're just putting a bunch of wacky shit in the animal cages" in marketing speak, so "Boo at the Zoo" offered several "enrichment activities" for its furry and scaly residents. All in all, I give their displays a solid A for effort. I mean, this scarecrow was enough to get the notoriously elusive bongo to wander its way back into the zoo, so that probably tells you something. 

And if you needed photographic evidence of just how cost-efficient some of the props were? They gave a number of animals, including this less than enthused lemur, autumnal colored construction paper links to play with. Did Dollar Tree sponsor this thing on the down low or something?

I could watch gorillas do shockingly human things all day --  and I could watch a gorilla eating a pumpkin for the next 15 millenniums. 

And probably the weirdest in-cage prop on display? They gave the bush dogs -- as the name suggests, an animal that's not really known for hanging out in the open and all -- several gigantic orange cubes of ice. It doesn't have to make sense, just as long as it's goddamn adorable, right?


Kangaroos are quite possibly my favorite animal, so of course, I was there a half hour early for the special LIVE enrichment activity held at Outback Station. It's pretty much sharing the same real estate as the petting Zoo, which -- irony of cruelest ironies -- is sponsored by a company whose bread and butter is literally killing as many living things as possible. 

BUT OH GOD THE ADORABLENESS! I saw a little baby kangaroo actually hanging out inside his mama roo's pouch! Although considering his leg is shoved halfway in his own ear, you got to figure that set-up is uncomfortable as all hell. 

Oh, and as far as the "enrichment" activity went? They just gave them a paper bone to play with and strung up some empty milk jugs with crappy looking spooky faces drawn on them with Magic Marker. Unsurprisingly, the marsupials preferred just smelling the sand instead. 


Outside of a special inflatable corn maze thingy (complete with a bored DJ spinning Talking Heads tunes to a bunch of pre-schoolers) and the largely superficial props, it was still a fairly average day at Zoo Atlanta, which most certainly is never a bad thing. I mean, any day I get to rub my fingers over a bronze facsimile of a Malaysian tiger's taste buds, I'm generally pretty fulfilled. 

I also got to see a few animals that I've never noticed before, including this binturong -- which is apparently some kind of bearcat from southeast Asia. And also, it's lazy as hell. 

Oh, and since my last visit, they added GIANT OTTERS! The two on display were a veritable odd couple, with one frantically swimming around and rollicking in the grass and the other one (pictured above) just kind of laying there trying to nap. Periodically, the more active one would try to push the other one into the pool, which was a.) hilarious and b.) so adorable I almost wept. 

And lastly, believe it or not, this macabre vulture cage display is actually an all-year-round attraction. And it's far and away the creepiest damn thing you'll see at the Zoo, so parents ... take your kids to see this thing first-thing


The meerkat and gorilla displays were a sight to behold, obviously, but for my money, the best demonstrations at "Boo at the Zoo" were in the park's reptile house. Watching lizards, snakes and turtles slinking around, with mini Jack O' Lanterns in their glass booths, was just the most Halloween thing the Zoo could have done, outside of making tarantulas fight each other to death while "Tubular Bells" played on the PA system. 

I mean, just look at that. It's so minimal, yet so awesome at the same time (that's a rattlesnake in the background, behind the cactus, if you were wondering.) What the Zoo was able to do here, with virtually zero resources, is pretty amazing. Plus, I sleep a little easier at night knowing someone on staff was probably paid minimum wage to jam plastic bones inside a Komodo dragon's habitat,

Needless to say, the Halloween dioramas in the not-too-distant future could be outright awe-inspiring, no?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Round-up of the Limited Time Only Foodstuffs of Halloween 2014!

It's our fourth annual whirlwind tour of seasonal, Halloween-themed junk foods ... and it might just be our most tummy-ache inducing expedition yet!

Every year, we here at the Internet is In America celebrate the mass-marketed, diabetes-and-cavities-causing foodstuffs that line store shelves ever so briefly for the Halloween season. In 2011 we had Pumpkin Delights and Halloween-flavored Pop-Tarts, in 2012 we had Candy Corn M&Ms and Butterfingers shaped like Jack O Lanterns and last year, we tried out orange frosting and Chips Ahoy cookies with little specks of ocher in them. And that's not even counting all of the extra-curricular stuff we've gotten into, involving Jones Soda's "horror" beverages and, of course, the miscellaneous General Mills Monsters goodies

Needless to say, the bar has been raised very high for 2014, and as "The Dream Master" surely proved to us, it's around part 4 that most series begin sucking hard. Alas, there were quite a few all-new items hitting America's grocers and big box marts this Halloween, and some of them might just set a new standard for most over-the-top seasonal tie-in. 

Dump out your McDonalds pails, kiddos -- it's time to chow down on the finest novelty snacks to grace our pantries, and lower intestines, this witching season...


In some ways, Peeps offer one of the more mundane seasonal Halloween offerings, but then again, since when was traditional a bad thing? They're marshmallows shaped like Jack O Lanterns -- surely, anyone who doth protest against these are less than human.

This eight pack of welded pumpkins is no doubt cute, and I really dig how each individual pumpkin is just mildly malformed. The size of each bottom row pumpkin fluctuates, and it seems like all of the top row marshmallows don't know whether they want to be Jack O Lanterns or Valentine candies

Ultimately, Peeps are one of those foods that I really, really like for the aesthetic, but really don't enjoy gustatorily. Marshmallow aficionados will certainly disagree, but to me, these things just taste like sugary Styrofoam. But as a plus? At least it's sugary Styrofoam that looks a lot like really fucked up pumpkins.  


Considering the fact that half of my postings this year have been about the various, kooky Oreos permutations released by Nabisco, the appearances of Pumpkin Spice Creme Oreos here shouldn't be surprising in the slightest.

Note, the official name of these products are Pumpkin Spice Creme Oreos. See, it even says it on the box, albeit in an almost subscript text -- so the next time someone asks you if you've tried "Pumpkin Spice Oreos," you can totally embarrass them in public and stuff. 

As for the taste of the products, come on, you know they are freaking outstanding. Of course, "Pumpkin Spice" is really nothing more than code word for "cinnamon and nutmeg," but who in the world would complain about having more twist-top cookie options at the supermarket? That's right ... only communists, that's who. 


The thing about most seasonal Halloween candies that irks me is how innocuous the brandings are. Don't get me wrong, it's cool and all that Little Debbies is releasing vampire bat brownies, but when the products are just splotchy brown and black things, you can't help but want just a little bit more character with your snack food.

That nugget in mind, I really have to give Twix props for their special edition "Ghost" candy bars, which are not only wild deviations from the standard product, but one of the cooler -- dare I say, even sinister -- looking junk foods on market aisles this Samhain season. The detail on these things are very, very impressive -- they may very well be best-sculpted foodstuffs you'll encounter this autumn.

Those are some bad motherfucking ghosts right there. Just look at them, with their unholy eyes and gaping wide smile, no doubt a portal to the deepest recesses of Hades. Forget your cutesy, mass-market friendly mascot ghosts, those two look like they'd jump Boo Berry, take his wallet, and potentially sodomize him. And if you're thinking that just because they happen to be brown ... congrats on being a racist. 


Now, I know what you're thinking. "Hey Jimbo, didn't you already cover these things two years ago?" Well, you're partially right -- I indeed covered a variety of Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins, but those were the standard chocolate versions. This, I assure you, is an entirely new bag -- in more ways than one.

One look at the exterior and individually-wrapped packaging, and you'll make the same assumption I did. "White bag," consumer mathematics tells us, "equates white product." So imagine my surprise when I opened up these suckers and discovered ... holy shit, these things are orange!

Yep, these are indeed the most authentically hued Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins yet to hit the market. The amber shell, thankfully, tastes very much like traditional chocolate, and the innards are still nice and peanut buttery. The only thing that would have made these things better? Had the company taken the time and effort to paint little green stems atop each candy. Hey, if Peeps can afford to do it, every company should be able to


Candy corn is a really polarizing food. The people who loathe it REALLY can't stand it, and those who enjoy it are downright passionate in their admiration of the product. In general, artificially-flavored candy corn things tend to fluctuate in quality, so I really didn't know what to expect hopping into Hershey's Candy Corn Candy Bits.

First off, I really, really like the packaging. It's so generic, yet so seasonally appropriate, as if it's the wrapper for some dime store candy bar circa 1971. With a swatch like that, the thing really could be an all-purpose autumnal candy -- it looks just as fitting for the late summer harvest as it does the ass-end of November. 

As for the mini-bar itself, it looked a lot like Hershey's white chocolate peppermint bars from a few Christmases ago. Thankfully, these bars look way less like they have shingles, and more like chunks of soap with carrot peelings embedded on it. Ultimately, it doesn't taste all that much like candy corn, but it's a rather unoffensive treat for the most part. And unlike those Candy Corn M&Ms, whiffing the bag doesn't appear to give you a case of black lung, either. 


Even with "chewy" as an in-moniker adjective, granola bars are hardly what I would consider Halloween-caliber snack offerings. That said, the semi-lazy packaging on this one really caught my eye -- black cats, spiders, a cauldron with the words interjection "boo!" engraved upon it ... man, that shit is trying so hard to say "Halloween," ain't it? 

As much as I loved the Candy Corn Hershey's packaging, I adore the wrapper for the Market Pantry (read: Target) Candy Corn Chewy Granola Bars even more. The red, the white, the Jack O Lantern so innocuous it borders on being ominous; if John Carpenter ever directed a snack cake, it would probably look something like this. 

And the bar itself? Eh, it was okay, although for the life of me, I'm not entirely sure why this thing was labeled "candy corn" flavored. Unless someone forgot to flavor this one box, my batch tasted pretty much identical to your standard breakfast bar. Maybe if you just slap some orange on your product, it's good enough for "Halloween status?" You know, I really want to know the FDA rules on that one. 


Pillsbury is known for releasing myriad holiday-themed frostings, but holy shit, has Betty Crocker taken it to a whole other level. Yeah, candy corn frosting is cool and all, but have you ever dreamed of eating baked goods that taste like an IHOP grand slam breakfast? Well, apparently, they did, and hard.

A maple syrup flavored dessert topping is one thing, but to include ground up bacon bits as an extra? That's not just insane, that's criminal genius insane, and I for one believe humanity is all the better for its invention. 

The pre-processed goop may resemble extra creamy peanut butter, but I assure you it tastes quite a bit like chemical-drenched pancakes. The texture is pretty comparable to your basic frosting -- a bit frothy, but nothing too heavy. And the Aunt Jemima scent, I must say, is really, really fierce. 

Of course, you're not really eating this stuff unless you're also opting to drench the pudding in four or five ounces of crumbled up pork dust, which is precisely the path I elected. Now, you may think it's gross that I jammed a spoon in the pell-mell mixture and wolfed down a few chunks, but it really is a taste to behold. Indeed, it tastes just like a potpourri of bacon and pancake batter, making this product a much, much improved  (albeit unofficial) formula for Soylent. But hey, why stop with just the bacon powder -- I've got some buddies right here who want to go for a frosting dip too!

What a way to end the golden season of novelty junk foods, no? We ate misshaped Jack O Lantern-mallows, jammed "Basic Bitch" flavored sandwich cookies down our cakeholes, digested delicious, extra crispy souls of the dead, jumped headlong into several candy corn things that really didn't taste like candy corn and for the grand finale, chowed down on chocolate pumpkins coated in a thick carapace of pancake-scented frosting and salty, smoky pig hide

All I can say is, if Halloween 2015 is just half the seasonal foodstuff hootenanny Halloween 2014 was, I don't think any of us are going to survive it. Primarily, because we'll all have to have our legs hacked off due Type III Diabetes. Yeah, Type III. It's coming, folks. 

Now pardon me, dear readers ... I think I have to vomit profusely for a few hours,